Our latest beggar is talented in more ways than one. Located in Central on Queen’s Road near exit D1 or D2, you can usually hear him from a block away since he plays traditional Chinese tunes on an old wooden flute.
If you have two empty bottles and a full bottle in the machine, it’s TIME to place an order for water. Yes, it may seem that there’s a lot of water left, but it’s 35+ freakin’ degrees outside and you’ve got a lot of sweaty, thirsty and parched workers in the office. So place the order NOW already!!
If every water bottle including the one in the machine is empty, you’re TOO F@#KING LATE! Once again, you have amazed us with your stupidity and lack of brain cells!!
If you work in Central, you’ve probably come across the Giant Foot Man at some point. A life-sized foot mascot, he can usually be seen at the corner of Lyndhurst Terrace and Gage Street outside of Pizza Express handing out flyers for the foot massage place called ‘Refresh’, which is located just down the street.
Sometimes, you come across people so beautiful you can’t help yourself from staring. Other times, you come across people so ugly…you just wanna punch them out.
WHAT? Yea, I said it. Some people are so ugly, they just trigger the whack-a-mole reaction in me, whereby I gasp in horror every time they pop up and all I wanna do is clobber it back into its sad little hole with my giant stuffed hammer.
I believe there’s a term for this in Cantonese called ‘yeung seui’, which literally means ‘ugly in appearance’. I’ve tried to translate it into English before but never quite managed, since ‘fugly’, ‘repulsive’ or ‘disgusting’ just doesn’t warrant a physical beating like ‘yeung seui’ does. Or is it just me who defines ‘yeung seui’ as ‘so damn ugly you just wanna punch him/her out’?
As an example, I came across a very ‘yeung seui’ guy in the MTR the other day. He was sitting across me looking like a zombie with his lower jaw jutted out and mouth hanging open to catch any flies passing by, I presume. His eyes were rolled into the back of his head, yet he still managed to stare at everyone around him for uncomfortably long periods of time, all the while giving a ‘I want to eat your brains’ look to us all.
Like a train wreck, I tried to look away but found my eyes drifting back to him magnetically against my will, getting more and more annoyed with the way he looked, and why did he have to keep staring at me?! Even though it was days ago, the image of him was emblazoned into my head, so I just had to draw him out:
It’s that time of year again – Chinese New Year – and you know what that means… It’s time to put on that tacky Chinese outfit you would never be seen in public with every other day of the year, time to drop our jaws for 20 minutes straight going ‘wahhhh’ for the same ol’ fireworks in Victoria Harbour and of course, time to shirk around all those building reception and security guards that we don’t really know or like enough to give them a red pocket (lai see).
I know it’s proper etiquette to give all of them a lil somethin’ somethin’ for the hard work they’ve been doing for the past year, but I just don’t believe in obligatory giving, especially when it’s to the masses and to pseudo-strangers at that. In fact, I’m proud to say that I am a strong supporter of special treatment, both giving and getting (aren’t we all?).
Anyway, now that the red pockets have been sneakily distributed to (only) those we’ve deemed ‘favorites’, I can’t help but reminisce at some of our favorite building concierges gone by…*sniff sniff*
Eggie aka. Elgar/Egwart/Egwar (?) was the first reception guy in our building when we first moved to Hong Kong. A skinny, soft-spoken and dare I say nerdy guy, he could often be seen chatting on the phone with his ‘girlfriend’ (unconfirmed) during his regular graveyard shifts, unless he was asked for help, that is. No matter whether we asked him where we could order takeout, how to stream Premier League games or how to change our locks, he would always conduct intensive research before answering us, in the form of a 3 page handwritten note slipped discreetly into our mailbox the next morning. Sigh…he was so sweet!
Mickey was a beautiful and sweet Hong Kong girl who always made me wonder what the hell she was doing as a reception girl in our building. To me, she could definitely enter and win any beauty pageant with her big (contact lens-enhanced) black eyes, porcelain skin and sweet as sugar giggles. One day, she even referred to our neighborhood as a ‘garbage land’ (translation: dump), so I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when she silently disappeared one day…
My personal favorite, Mongkok Guy was aptly named for his partly-shaved emo haircut and rough-looking features. A man in his mid-30s, one of his eyes was a little bit smaller than the other, which I assumed was a battle scar from a fight he’d survived versus other triad members in his past (or current?) life. Always friendly and helpful, we felt particularly hurt when he disappeared without telling us, especially when we had gone out on a limb by outwardly telling him he was “our favorite” guy! ::burn::
Unfortunately, all three of them disappeared without any notice at all, so I have no idea where they are now. I hope Eggie found a better job where he can actually spend the evenings with his said-girlfriend, and I have a feeling that Mickey and Mongkok Guy may have run off together (they seemed quite close and always worked the same shifts for some reason) but who knows?
If anyone out there has seen them, please let them know that they are sorely missed… and that their red pockets are here waiting for them! 😥
Thanks to my new job, I had the (dis)pleasure of dining at BO Innovation recently, and even though it is now weeks ago, the experience is definitely one that hasn’t faded away quickly. Foodies in Hong Kong have surely heard of BO but for those who haven’t, BO is hailed by many to be one of the best restaurants in the world due to owner and “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung’s wildly creative and experimental style of cooking. And experimental it was.
The meal began with Pat Chun, a combination of mousse-like cream, pomelo, pineapple, tomato and vinegar, which I managed to swallow like I would take medicine (quick and without tasting it).
Next was the Molecular Xiao Long Bao, which was a little jelly sphere filled with pork broth meant to pop in your mouth, giving you all the flavors of a xiao long bao without you having to chew or bite anything. But what is this – made for people without teeth? The little sphere did in fact pop like a ripe pimple inside my mouth, and while the juices spilled out I once again had to swallow it quickly to just get rid of it.
At this point, I knew that this super high-end molecular meal was definitely not for me, but I had no choice but to stay as it was a full-on media lunch. So, a few (somewhat) normal dishes later, we were served the Nitro dish, which was essentially a big lump of ginger tea ‘cooked’ in liquid nitrogen. While I watched the waiter tossing the lumps in a steaming bowl of chemicals, I really wanted to skip this course but again, peer pressure prevailed and I was given a huge shit-shaped lump to put into my mouth.
The experience was like sticking my tongue on a frozen chair-lift, except it was totally inverted and instead of only my tongue being stuck to ice, it was my entire mouth. While all eyes were on me, spitting it out was not an option and by the time I managed to break it down and swallow it my mouth felt all scratched up.
Finally, it was time for dessert and I still had a glimmer of hope that it’d be good, seeing that it had almond as a main ingredient. Instead, we were given the Sandalwood, which was a pot of tofu-like substance with hawthorn and actual smoke that smelled like incense from a Chinese temple. We were told to inhale the smoke first, and then dig into the contents of the pot, but after smelling the burnt incense smell, it felt like I was eating incense ash ice cream.
Unfortunately, Alvin Leung himself was sitting next to me at this point so I managed to get a few (small) spoonfuls in, but I quickly covered up my pot to avoid having any more of the disgusting dessert.
Overall, I can appreciate Alvin’s creativity given that there’s definitely not enough of it in Hong Kong, but the entire dining experience felt more like a lab experiment to me than anything else. It reminded me of when I was a kid and used to mix all the leftovers from the dimsum table together for fun, like fish eyeballs, chicken feet bones, pork fat, pepper and a slosh of jasmine tea. The difference is, I never forced anyone to eat it…
Of course, there are many people out there who absolutely adore BO Innovation, for whatever reasons I as a simpletongue won’t understand. For another perspective, check out the review by Luxeat (who took all the pictures above).
I don’t get sick often, but when I do, I try to avoid seeing the doctor as much as possible, especially in Hong Kong. Why is this?
First of all, it’s a hassle to expense the bill (yea, I’m that lazy). Second, I still don’t have a doctor to call my own, so it’s always some random wo/man. And third, I have a feeling the doctors here don’t really care about their patients, nor do they really know (or want to know) what the problem is.
What happens then is after your brief consultation, the doctor prescribes a truckload of medications for you to take, each one apparently canceling out the others’ effect. For instance, if you have a rash, you’d probably get:
- 1 small tub of cream
- 6 antihistamines for the itchiness
- 8 slow-release painkillers
- 16 stomach neutralizers so the painkillers don’t give you stomach ulcers
- 24 antibiotic pills to kill the germs
- 9 pills to lift your mood (cuz having a rash probably made you clinically depressed)
- and maybe even a few panadols in case you suddenly develop some sort of fever.
It’s like the doctor’s saying, “I don’t REALLY know what you’ve got, but here’s a bit of everything so we hit all birds with (way more than) one stone.” I mean, I’ve never lived in a place where the doctors give you so many pills to take! Back in Holland, going to the doctor was completely useless, since s/he’d just tell you to go home and rest, leaving you weak, empty-handed and helpless to develop whatever you had into its full-blown state (hello, bronchitis!). In Hong Kong though, they do the complete opposite and over-medicate.
I heard though that it’s not just the doctors’ fault. Since patients need to pay a fee each time they see the doctor (around HK$200), they expect to get their money’s worth (read: medicine). So, regardless of whether they have the right pills or not for their symptoms, they take their pills obediently. For me though, the occasional visit to the doctor is not a way to get meds, it’s a way to get peace of mind. As long as I know I’m not dying from some life-threatening disease, I usually take those pills (you get them automatically from the doctor’s office) and throw them out once I get home.
Anyone with me, or do you usually take all the pills your doctor gives you?